Double the impact: Mayor lobbies council to pass half-cent GET surcharge

  • Harry Kim

HILO — Bolstered by a state recalculation that shows a half-cent general excise tax surcharge would give the county twice what was originally thought, Mayor Harry Kim has resumed lobbying the County Council to pass it.

Kim announced Wednesday the surcharge would bring in $50 million annually, rather than the previously forecast $25 million. The difference is due to more accurate calculations by the state Department of Taxation stemming from new software that better tracks the source of the taxes, said county Finance Director Deanna Sako.


Kim wrote a letter to the council asking it to support the surcharge. He pledged the administration “commits to the County Council a fully cooperative approach in setting priorities on the expenditures of these additional revenues.”

“I consider this a gift to the people of Hawaii Island,” Kim said in an interview. “It’s a tremendous gift to help us catch up.”

A half-cent GET surcharge would add 54 cents in tax to a $100 expenditure. Currently, all the GET collected, 4 cents on the dollar, goes to state, not county, coffers.

Kim said the $515.7 million budget currently proposed allows only the bare minimum for maintenance of existing roads, parks and other projects. That budget is based on no new property taxes and the continuation of previously approved gas tax increases.

Kim is scheduled to address the council Tuesday when he kicks off three days of its department-by-department review of programs and the budget.

The council, with an apparent majority opposed to the GET measure, in February postponed consideration of Bill 102 until no later than May 5. This allowed the March 31 deadline imposed by the state Legislature to run out.

But a bill making its way through the Legislature would extend the deadline to enact a GET surcharge until June 30. In addition, House Bill 2587 allows up to 40 percent of the money to be used for non-transportation projects and up to 2 percent for private roadways that are used by the public.

Puna Councilwoman Jen Ruggles, whose district includes many of the private roads used by the public, has been asking for more resources for her district since she took office in 2016. But she still opposes a GET increase, she said.

“Considering taking care of our private roads is long overdue,” Ruggles said. “However, this tax is still regressive, still taxes food and medicine, and still hurts those can least afford it.”

Ruggles said taxes should target those who can afford to pay more.

The Senate approved HB 2587 with a minor change Tuesday. All the pieces could come together at the last minute, with the Legislature set to conclude its business May 3 and the mayor required to submit his final proposed budget by May 5.

Kim said the changes to the bill would allow the county to focus on, in addition to roads and Mass Transit, needed improvements such as increased police and fire protection, homeless programs and other services.


About 25 percent of the tax would be paid by visitors, lessening the burden on residents and property owners.

Currently, property taxes generate about 75 percent of the money going into the general fund. To raise the same revenue as the half-cent GET, the county would have to raise property taxes by 16.5 percent, the administration said.

  1. diverdave April 12, 2018 12:23 am

    ““I consider this a gift to the people of Hawaii Island,” Kim said in an interview. “It’s a tremendous gift to help us catch up.”” SAID WHAT?!
    HA,HA,HA! So, taking more of OUR money is somehow a “gift’ to ourselves to “help us catch up.”
    But, the “us” are not the taxpayers but the local County Government. Didn’t they just pass the largest “balanced” budget of all times of over $525 Million?
    Now, we need to “catch up”.
    HA,HA,HA! It’s a “gift to the people”. HA,HA,HA! I’m laughing so hard I think I’m going to have a coronary.

    1. diverdave April 12, 2018 12:39 am

      Two tomatoes were walking down the side of the road and one got run over by a car. The remaining tomato turned around and said, “come on, catch up”.

      Well that made more sense anyway.

  2. Ray Takeda April 12, 2018 2:48 am

    Why don’t they ever cut spending? Why is Kim’s salary so high for what he does? Why do we put up with this? Guess it’s time to change my business plan and work under the table and get on any and all types of government handouts. I’m tired of working to see it go to these tools….

  3. KonaDude April 12, 2018 2:54 am

    This is like the twilight zone!!

  4. areapolice April 12, 2018 5:37 am

    Kim is so old he’s already delirious. He better check , he has Alzheimer’s . because a gift is when you give something to someone and not take it away. Harry Kim, You make me sick. You can go and plumb ducks!

  5. KonaRich April 12, 2018 6:09 am

    Just as the sun will come up tomorrow the county council will sign onto this thing and we the taxpayer will once again be tightening our belts to balance our budget.

    1. volcanovillage April 16, 2018 1:44 pm

      agreed….they Sign at their Own Peril….I vote for Representatives…..not these schiesters

  6. Scooby April 12, 2018 6:11 am

    Gift to himself and his lazy appointed staff. Its been well into his second year and all we ever hear is him and or his appointed department heads crying for more money. No more tax increases! Harry Kim said he would not raise taxes and he would restore trust in government. No, trust is at an all time low and its only getting worse under Kim. How much more of this will we tax payers take before he runs this county to the ground? Enough is enough!

  7. Aku April 12, 2018 6:16 am

    I had high hopes for Mayor Kim. When he did the sweep at Old Airport for homeless and put security guards in afterwards to keep them from coming back I thought he was legit. But then he let the guards go after only a few months because he said we couldn’t afford it and then he gave himself and his staff a raise the next week. Just one example of how out of touch he is.

  8. Big ideas April 12, 2018 6:42 am

    “I consider this a gift to the people of Hawaii Island,” Kim said in an interview. “It’s a tremendous gift to help us catch up.”




  9. KonaLife April 12, 2018 8:18 am

    Our mayor has lost touch with reality and the residents of our island. The GE tax is the most regressive tax possible. Poor and lower income families pay a huge percentage of their income on necessities: food, rent, clothing and gas, and have very little discretionary income. They have few choices, as these are bare necessities. Adding .5% in taxes to the things they must buy to survive makes life much harder on them. If you want to hurt the poor and lower income families, the GE tax is the one to raise.

    The major talks of a “bare bones budget” but fails to see that taking more from those who can least afford it–those living a bare bones lifestyle–is just just bad policy.

  10. Bigislandfarmer April 12, 2018 8:20 am

    Why does Kim hate poor people and Native Hawaiians so much? This tax, which is really a 12% increase in taxes and over 2% in the rate itself, disproportionately harms lower income people, who are disproportionately local and Native Hawaiian. All so Kim can reward corporations with fat County contracts. He needs to be removed from office!

  11. metalman808 April 12, 2018 9:06 am

    With all the protest going on here and around the world why aren’t we all in front Harry Kim office protesting. If someone knows how to get that going just leave the dates here and I’ll show up with my signs of my thoughts about Dirty Harry. The money whore needs to be stopped legally by the people. IMPEACH. Can anybody even smile at this guy anymore. Doubt it. And could they change harry Kim’s file photo. Every time I see it, I see devil horns a beard and mustache.

  12. onceawarrior April 12, 2018 10:42 am

    News report quotes – huh huh huh?
    Harry Kim quotes – ha ha ha ha!
    Avatar quotes – ha ha ha ha!
    WHT – thanks for the laughter!

  13. Buds4All April 12, 2018 10:56 am

    I consider jamming you in the Ball Sac it a pitch fork a gift Kim!

  14. konablue April 12, 2018 11:08 am

    Contact the County Council to tell them we don’t want another one of Kim’s gifts after the property tax hike he already gave us. With gifts like that not sure I can afford another.

  15. Jose Martinez April 12, 2018 5:56 pm

    why make a big noise? these “leaders”of ours,are leading us….and they are,and will get away with any thing that comes into their minds.i am over it….best you guys get over it also.after all,it’s only our money….

  16. jim williams April 13, 2018 2:30 am

    As I have stated before, Hawaii County is run like a third world banana republic. Taxing with one hand and buying votes with the other using our hard earned money. Enough! Vote every single incumbent out!

  17. metalman808 April 13, 2018 7:27 am

    Another one of those SPECIAL ( POI ) hires. 25 million off from the first calculation. Kimo get da calculator, I taught my math skills was betta. No worry Harry stay big smile now.

  18. volcanovillage April 13, 2018 11:52 am

    REPRESENTATIVES should be fully aware that Elections can GIVE you power of Office and ALSO cause you to LOSE office.
    I VOTE and I am angry enough to work Hard against those who support this nonsense.

  19. volcanovillage April 13, 2018 12:13 pm

    Dear Jen Ruggles…..the County will NEVER DO ANYTHING for Our Private Roads even though the County is ALWAYS all glad to see me at the GAS PUMP Taxes , Property Taxes, GET Taxes.
    We have never had and will Never Have any of OUR money returned to us.
    The COUNTY is quite happy to be willingly stuck between Kingdom Law, Territorial Law, and MODERN U S Law.
    It is an ever ready excuse for the county to act like they have NO Control.
    When it comes to UNIONS and County Employees the COUNTY excels in taking care of ITSELF.
    All those taxes I PAY….and get NOTHING….not a shovel full of asphalt or 10 minutes of labor from MY County employees who once again want MORE RAISES after just getting on Last YEAR.
    I KNOW greed and self serving behavior when I see it.
    I VOTE.

  20. volcanovillage April 16, 2018 1:48 pm

    my “GIFT” to the approving council >>> I will not Vote for you and will work hard against you.
    Voters are watching …. don’t think you are a shoo in or terribly precious my representatives…..YOU are not.

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